Dr TP Lahane, Director of Medical Education and Research, Mumbai, has written to doctors in the city to render their services for the prevention and treatment of COVID-19 patients for at least 15 days or face action.
Doctors have been advised to convey their willingness and place of choice where they would like to work to Dr Milind Kamble, protocol and liaison officer at the Mumbai Municipal Commissioner’s Office.
Doctors above the age of 55 years and those with co-morbidities like diabetes, hypertension, other heart ailments have been exempt from this duty.
Dr Lahane confirmed to CNBC-TV18 that all MBBS doctors in the city will have to come for this mandatory 15 day service, however, they can choose their location and time.
This order will be applicable for registered medical practitioners in Mumbai and suburban districts. There are over 25,000 registered medical practitioners in Mumbai.
"A similar call for duty will be issued to AYUSH doctors and homeopaths too. Even they will need to offer basic services," Dr Lahane told CNBC-TV18.
The letter by Dr Lahane mentions that non-adherence to duty will be considered as breach of MCI Code of Ethics that are administered while obtaining their degree and action will be initiated according to provisions of the Epidemic Disease Act, 1897 and other acts.
Despite the lockdown, Mumbai is seeing a fast rise in the number of COVID-19 cases. Till now Mumbai alone has recorded 9,945 positive cases and 387 deaths owing to COVID-19, the highest in the country.
Government and municipal health facilities are getting exhausted and the administration is adding more isolation facilities and ICU beds. However, there has been a crunch in healthcare staff.
There have also been instances of private hospitals and clinics remaining closed during the lockdown in fear of COVID-19 infection, affecting availability of health services. Additionally, as doctors and healthcare staff contracted the virus in their line of duty, many hospitals had to be closed adding further stress to the available health infrastructure and manpower.
A South Mumbai doctor who CNBC-TV18 spoke to said, "While there is a concern on safety and lack of clarity on what each one of us can offer, considering this is an epidemic order, we will have to do it."
Dr Lahane added that required protective gear will be provided to all medical practitioners. "If the government is calling for duty, it will also provide all protective equipment."
Majority of COVID care does not require super-specialty, but attending to basic symptoms like fever, respiratory distress and cough, that all MBBS doctors can do, said Dr Lahane.